A renewed military confrontation is set to erupt in South Sudan. This came after the rebel forces’ garrison was attacked by the government troops in Bentiu on Tuesday. In response to this, the rebels have threatened to launch a swift reprisal attack on the government forces in Juba, the capital of South Sudan.
The spokesman of the opposition group, Major Dickson Gatluak, stated that their forces managed to contain the government forces’ guerilla tactics. He also warned that United Nations (UN) staff in Juba should evacuate the city to avoid any casualties as their forces will strike very soon.
“The fighting started this morning at 6am (local time) and our forces managed to fight back the enemy this afternoon. Our forces will be taking quick action against the regime in Juba,” he said.
The rebel forces opposition group, backed by the former vice president, Riek Machar, has been in a political rivalry with President Salva Kiir, since December 2013. This conflict has led to civil unrest in the young state, leaving tens of thousands people dead and millions displaced from their homes.
In a meeting held in Khartoum last week, Machar and his allies ordered their forces to reorganize for armed resistance against the government forces. Machar’s spokesman noted that “if the peace agreement can be revived, then we can go back to Juba, but if not, then armed resistance is an option.”
Failing peace efforts
Since December 2013, various peace efforts have been put in place to halt the unrest in the world’s youngest nation. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC), under resolution 2155, established the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) mainly to protect the civilians, ensure the respect of human rights, support the delivery of humanitarian assistance and ensure the implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement. In addition, UN recently deployed an additional 4,000 troops, raising the number of UN peacekeepers in South Sudan to 16,000.
More so, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has played a significant role in ensuring peace in South Sudan. In a bid to achieve this, the multilateral organisation sent its special envoys to dialogue with the warring faction. Also, IGAD’s Heads of States have held nine extraordinary sessions on South Sudan during the twenty-two-month mediation process. The East African Community (EAC) also lends its support to IGAD’s peace process.
By contrast, these peace efforts seem to be futile exercises as the warring factions keep launching attacks. No sign that the crisis in the South Sudan will come to end soon, considering the recent threat from the opposition’s rebel forces.
Why peace in South Sudan is necessary
The consequences of the 1989 Liberian Civil War on West African states provides a platform to realize the importance of peace in any region. For the first time, West Africa experienced a massive influx of weapons which Charles Taylor imported from the Defunct Soviet Union. In addition, West Africa experienced recruitment of child soldiers who ruthlessly fought for the Liberian warlord, Charles Taylor. Most importantly, massive migration to neighboring countries like Sierra Leone and Nigeria was on the rise. Fear also gripped West African states because of the possible spread of the conflict into their territories.
The above consequences of the Liberian Civil War on West African states might be unavoidable in South Sudan if the unrest persists. Death tolls will continue to rise and war crimes will be inevitable. To put an end to all these, warring factions in South Sudan need to respect the peace agreement in the state.
To achieve sustainable development in the country, security – brought about by peace- must be guaranteed. Unfortunately, the world’s youngest nation has not been secure since 2013. To this end, economic, as well as sociopolitical development have not been achieved in the state. This is because businesses could not thrive, schools have been shut down to prevail. All these hinder the development of the state.